26 December 2009

Nights Dawn Trilogy by Peter F Hamilton

Finally finished these monsters. Plenty of cool ideas and detailed depictions of amazing and alien places. Although to be honest I preferred 'A Second Chance of Eden' and look forward to the next set of short stories to be published, which was hinted at on Peter's page. Next on the reading list is 'Matter' by Iain M. Banks, quite a few more have been piled up after taking advantage of Boarders' closing down sale, with between 50%-70% off everything it was hard to resist.

24 December 2009

Remove Blogger Navbar

Add this code just above the '/* Variable definitions' to the page HTML to remove the Blogger Navbar..
#navbar-iframe {
   display: none !important;


This is a really fantastic film, saw it in 3D the other night, it's well worth a look. I'm keen to see it in normal 2D also to compare with the 3D version. But the 3D was very good, if you didn't see a film in 3D recently you should know the technology has come along way and you forget you are wearing the special glasses after 5 mins into the film.

Official site

23 December 2009

NimBuzz for Blackberry

Finally a decent and free IM chat client for the BlackBerry that supports messaging for MSN (Windows Live), Skype (Chat only), Gmail (Google Talk), Yahoo! Chat and Facebook chat (and a ton of others).

BlackBerry users have been waiting for ages for a decent Skype IM client and NimBuzz is it.

Nimbuzz is well integrated into BB OS: you can set a tone in your profiles for 'New Message', a notification icon shows up with the mail, SMS etc and the app icon also shows the red asterisk if you have an unread message. No other IM client that I know of is this well integrated for Skype chats. It also works fine for MSN, Facebook Chat and Google Talk as mentioned earlier. This has allowed me to remove all the individual chat apps for MSN, Yahoo and Gmail and just use NimBuzz and a single app for all my IM chats..

Thanks NimBuzz. This app can be installed via BlackBerry App World

Read more about it here on the official NimBuzz blog

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts and Smart Tag Lists for Word 2007

Here is the macro code swap "Final" and "Final Showing Markup" view. Once saved as a macro it's a simple task to assign this to a keyboard short-cut..
Sub finalview()
With ActiveWindow.View
.ShowInsertionsAndDeletions = Not .ShowInsertionsAndDeletions
End With
End Sub 
I also wanted to make a custom 'Smart Tag List' the easiest way to do this was to simply download this 'Cities Smart Tag List' and edit the entries. This post on the MS web page was pretty hand. I simply replaced the terms after:
with my own CSV data. In this case a list of UniProt terms to easily identify the controlled vocabulary in the text of reports. I did also start to play around with the naming and URL parts of the XML, however after several promising edits the whole smart tag list disappeared from the options pane in Word. So I gave up and reverted to a version where I had only changed the main name and the term list as all I really wanted was the in text underlining of the terms.

31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

Zucca Risotto
Cut up a small pumpkin into segments (the small ones are sweeter).
Splash on a bit of olive oil and season with salt/peper, roast at 200oC for 30-40mins until they look nice and caramelised.
Fry chopped onion & garlic in some oil & butter in a saucepan.
Add the risotto rice, and cook for 1-2mins.
Add white wine to cover the rice and cook for ~30secs
Add stock to the rice a ladle-full at a time stirring all the while.
Once the risotto is nearly ready add in the roasted pumpkin flesh, some butter and a generous load of grated parmesan.

Pumpkin Soup
Get all the flesh out of a large pumpkin.
Fry onion and garlic and the pumpkin, use plenty of butter.
Add some stock and simmer for ~30mins
Season with salt/pepper, add some other spices to make it a bit more exciting, such as cumin and curry powder.
Blend the soup until smooth.
Chop up some streaky bacon and fry down until crispy, add this to the soup if you want to meat it up.

30 October 2009

Fix Firefox Keyword Search for New PubMed

PubMed updated their main page the otherday, which is nice.

However there was a bug or problem with my Firefox keyword searches as they no longer worked. After a bit of digging I found a few handy to know URLs for use with pubmed/NCBI, such as:

PMID links

which will open the page for the article "Generation of a conditional CREB Ser133Ala knockin mouse" PMID:19621437

Search URL
will search PubMed with the following term "nur77 dundee"

In any case, here is how I used the above URL to fix my Firefox keyword search bookmarks. This might be useful for other sites where right-clicking and creating a keyword bookmark doesn't work, as long as you know the correct search URL for the site in question.

You can edit the bookmark HTML by exporting your bookmarks, making changes to the file, then deleting all the bookmarks in firefox (except the toolbar ones) and re-importing the file. No doubt there is a way to directly edit the live copy of the file but I don't know where that is saved...

Find the entry for your PubMed keyword and remove the
part. Also update the URL to the following

the end result will look something like this, if your keyword is set as "pub"
<DT><a href=" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%s" SHORTCUTURL="pub" LAST_CHARSET="UTF-8">PubMed</a>

21 October 2009

More Google WAVE

So here is a wave about Guild Wars 2.. Although still no details about game play... Anyway I though I would have a go at embedding it.. From what I hear you have to be logged into wave to see it...

<div id="wave" style="width: 560px; height: 420px"></div>

<script type="text/javascript">
  var wave =
    new WavePanel('https://wave.google.com/wave/');
  wave.setUIConfig('white', 'black', 'Arial', '13px');

Um it wont work, possibly because i need to add that lower set of code to the overall page html not in this post, oh well.. But here are some fish instead...

14 October 2009

Red Sky

Snapped this on my way to german evening class at swansea uni...

13 October 2009

Lamb and leek hotpot

Possibly the tastiest thing to be made in the cast iron casserole dish..

I think the secret to the success of these is the fresh local ingredients, gower potatoes and local lamb. The butcher diced up a nice bit of lamb for me, on request he also included the bones that he removed for use in the stock.

Here is the rundown:

50g Butter
400g leeks
1 onion
800g lamb, cubed
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp oil
salt & pepper
800g waxy potatoes, sliced thin
some chopped parsley
some chopped thyme
300ml lamb stock
150ml double cream

Get your monster casserole pot on the fire add some oil and melt 1/2 the butter. Add the onions and leeks and cool slowly until nice and soft ~10mins.
Cover the lamb cubes with flour add salt a pepper.
Remove the leeks and onion to a separate bowl and add the meat to the pot to brown off garlic can go in now also. Once all browned off remove to a separate bowl.
Take the pot off the heat and layer half the potatoes in the bottom, add salt and pepper.
Add the meat then cover with the leek and onion. Finish off with the rest of the potatoes to make a covering layer on the top. Add the stock then put the pot back on the heat until just starting to bubble.
Add the lid and bung the whole thing in the oven, that you had pre-heated to 160oC. Cook the beast for about 2hrs.
After this remove the lid, add the rest of the butter in dobs and add the cream. Cook for a further 30-40mins with lid off until the top is all golden looking.
Lastly add the chopped herbs to the top.

It's a real beauty this one as you have potatoes, meat and vedge all in the one pot, thus saving on the washing up. Although it's also nice to serve with some additional veggies like carrots.

12 October 2009

Google WAVE

Just checking out the features of Google Wave, its in its early days. But plenty of things to try out.

Some neat display options for the folders/contacts list etc. However, at the moment there appears to be a huge burden on the user as to the 'correct way' to use a wave so that its not confusing for the other users. You can ping people (to add them into a wave at a certain point), reply in private, reply at any stage of a wave, edit someone else text in a wave! I though they wanted to get anyway from confusing monster email's.. Even with the playback, playing back a 60 reply message is not so quick..

Just this moment had a live wave with Owen which was a bit like using an IM, although you can go back and edit the other persons replied. Not sure about that. Also no sign of the 'coloured by user' text feature that I saw in the feature length preview video. However, it will take some time to see how it all works and will have to give the 'known bugs' & 'not yet implemented features' lists a quick read

Thanks to Owen for getting me the invite! Check out the his web comic.

02 October 2009

Help Desk...

Helping friends and family with IT support just got a whole lot easer with the use of Skype's share screen feature..

01 August 2009

NTFS partitions and ntfs-config

Using windows partitions in Ubuntu is no problem, however if you need to rely on a stable mount point you will want to add ntfs-config.

$ sudo apt-get install ntft-config && sudo ntfs-config

If while playing around with this you lose the partitions and then can't see them listed any more in the "New Partirions Found" popup when you load ntfs-tools you will need to clean your /etc/fstab file.

$ sudo gedit /etc/fstab

Be careful to only remove the windows mounts, these will have "ntfs-3g" written in the line.

04 May 2009

Mounting ISO images and creating shell scrips

Problem: Mount an ISO image file
  • Good old terminal
To make a mount point "iso" and mount the CD image "image.iso"
$ sudo mkdir /media/iso && sudo mount -o loop image.iso
To unmount the ISO and clean up the /media directory
$ sudo umount /media/iso && sudo rmdir /media/iso
Always good to know the terminal commands, thanks nixCraft.

  • Add a script to nautilus
$ cd ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts && sudo gedit mount
Add this text to make the 'mount' script
# nautilus-mount-iso
gksudo -u root -k /bin/echo "got r00t?"
sudo mkdir /media/"$*"
if sudo mount -o loop -t iso9660 "$*" /media/"$*"
if zenity --question --title "ISO Mounter" --text "$* Successfully Mounted.
Open Volume?"
nautilus /media/"$*" --no-desktop
exit 0
sudo rmdir /media/"$*"
zenity --error --title "ISO Mounter" --text "Cannot mount $*!"
exit 1
Now make the umount script
$ sudo gedit umount
and here is the code
for I in "$*"
foo=`gksudo -u root -k -m "enter your password for root terminal
access" /bin/echo "got r00t?"`
sudo umount "$I" && zenity --info --text "Successfully unmounted /media/$I/" && sudo rmdir "/media/$I/"
Set the files as executable
$ chmod 755 mount umount
This should have added the two new scripts to the context menu. Thanks to animacide @ ubuntu forums.

  • Install gMount
$ sudo apt-get install gmountiso
While it's good to know the other methods this one is by far the easiest to use. Thanks gMount

Wrap <pre> text on blogger

handy to know if you ever use <pre> formatting

Dashboard > Layout > Edit HTML

/* Posts
and paste this in on the next line down
.post pre {
white-space: pre-wrap;
white-space: -moz-pre-wrap;
white-space: o-pre-wrap;
Thanks go to Mike Tremell @ TL&UM

Essential Ubuntu Apps

This is the distilled version of Lifehacker's recent Top 10 Ubuntu apps.
A handy console app, just hit F12 (or what ever key you configure the shortcut to) and a console drops down from the screen top aka Quake style.
sudo apt-get install yakuake

Great keystroke launcher, has loads of plugins (such as google contacts, google docs etc) and can index a small (<3000)>$ sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.listpaste this text to the end of the file and save
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/do-core/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/do-core/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main
add the keys
$ gpg --no-default-keyring --keyring /tmp/gnome-do.keyring --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv A5D19FDCAA6ABB440CD3464628A8205077558DD0
$ gpg --no-default-keyring --keyring /tmp/gnome-do.keyring --export --armor A5D19FDCAA6ABB440CD3464628A8205077558DD0 | sudo apt-key add -
$ rm /tmp/gnome-do.keyring
then install it
$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gnome-do

Handy GUI with loads of settings that you would have otherwise never known about.
$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak
That's it for now, they are all very handy.. whats next?
  • Still waiting for S-Video out support for my ATI graphics card.. fglrx is not an option at the moment
  • Testing out open office to be sure I know how to use all the features I used to use in MS office before making the big switch.. TOCs in text citations etc
  • Might have to test out a windows emulator just incase.. looking at Wine winehq.org or VirtualBox virtualbox.org

03 May 2009

Geocaching on a Blackberry 8900

Had some visitors this bank holiday weekend and got an introduction into Geocaching. This is a great combination of computer geekary and getting outside for fresh air and seeing some nice sights. The most surprising thing is to discover so many interesting places in and around your home that you never saw before. In summary Geocahcing is "a sport/hobby where you use multi-billion dollar satellite technology to find plastic boxes hidden in the woods".

Managed to find the tools to play this kinda odd but rewarding GPS game using a blackberry.
This is a nice waypoint application, add co-ords by hand or download the free LOC file from geocaching.com/ and import it as a new waypoint. (BlackStar App > Menu: New Waypoint > Menu: Import GPX/LOC File).

Profile for andywingate

24 April 2009

Upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04... Initial issues

Used the 'Update Manager' to get the new distro, 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope (Must be a relative of the Wolpertinger)

Initial thoughts
  • Xserver crashed on re-boot, fixed this by completely removing fglrx and reinstalling some xserver packages packages
sudo apt-get remove --purge xorg-driver-fglrx
sudo apt-get install --reinstall libgl1-mesa-glx libgl1-mesa-dri
dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
Found this info at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Troubleshooting/FglrxInteferesWithRadeonDriver thanks go to Nesta Campbell

  • Ubuntu logo is much smaller! which looks kinda cool on my small laptop screen
  • Xserver running slow
    • Applications showing loads of lag
    • Closing windows often gives "Not responding.. Force Quit | Wait"
What's next
  • Get a working fglrx installed so my S-Video out works agian (although I didn't test this function yet in 9.04, but S-Vid didn't work under 8.10 without the proprietary ATI driver)
  • See if I can finally get the 'xinerama' option to work for my two screens (Laptop Screen and TV) or at the very least run them as two 'independent screens' as opposed to clone screens, which was the only working option (after hours and hours of fruitless xorg fiddling) under Ubuntu 8.10

03 April 2009

Misty days

They have a good supply of bears here so don't think you can step on the lines and get away with it..

19 January 2009

Greatest songs ever

Wish you were here, Pink Floyd

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade
your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have you found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here

16 January 2009

Blackberry keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are always good to know. Here is a list of the handy ones for a Blackberry 8900.

General functions

Any text fields
Shift+roll ball: highlight text
Shift+Del: cut
Alt+click ball: copy
Shift+click ball: paste

In lists and web pages
Space: page down
Shift+Space: page up

Home screen
Tying: will start a search of your contacts, except the number keys that will also enter that number
Green handset: recent calls. also when on a call after you went to the menus this takes you back to the phonecall screen.
Q: hold down to turn on Vibrate only profile.

E: next message with an error.
R: starts a reply to the selected message, using the same address it was sent to.
T: goto the top of the list.
U: next unread message.
P: previous day
S: starts a search
F: froward selected message
J: next message with same subject
K: prev message with same subject
L: reply-to-all for selected message
Del: deletes message
C: compose new message
V: see saved messages
B: goto the bottom of the list
N: goto next day

Alt+I: show incoming messages
Alt+O: show outgoing messages and calls
Alt+P: show all phone calls, incoming and outgoing
Alt+S: show SMS messages
Alt+V: show voicemail messages
Alt+M: show MMS messages
Alt+Enter: another way to compose a message

W: week view
A: agenda view
M: month view
D: day view (keyboard shortcuts don't work on Day view if you have 'Enable Quick Entry=On'. I turned mine off as its so fast to create a new appointment by pressing enter)
G: goto date
T: goto today
C: compose new appointment
Enter: compose new appointment
N: next day/month
P: previous day/month

R: reload
Y: history
U: hide/show top status bar
I: zoom in
O: zoom out
P: page info, possible to copy or email the URL
A: add bookmark
S: settings
D: close browser
F: find on page
G: goto ULR, also shows web search, bookmarks and recent history
H: goto home page
J: refresh page wirh java enabled
K: show bookmarks
C: connecton info
V: search for on page/find next on page
T: top
B: bottom
N: forward

Delicious, steaming hot & jucy lamb stew

These are the Roles Royce of the casserole dish world, its been put though its paces. This was probably the tastiest stew I have ever eaten (I didn't cook it!).


500g tasty diced Lamb from local butchers
Red wine opened last week ready to be used to cooking
Garlic, whole cloves
Onions, 1 or 2
Carrots, chopped
Worcester sauce

Add the meat, wine, garlic, chopped onions, Worcester sauce and fresh ground pepper, bit of paprika to a dish - leave it in the fridge for several hours.
Pick out the meat, dry off excess marinade, roll in flour
Melt some butter and a bit of oil in the casserole dish on the hob
Add the meat and cook it off until browned nicely - this will smell amazing
Add the chopped onions from the marinade dish, fry them for a bit
Add the copped carrots, also fry the for a bit
Add the rest of the marinade, lamb stock to cover everything
Put the lid on the dish and bung it in the oven 190 oC for about 1:30hrs

Was tasty, had it with small Italian style roast potatoes and boiled spinach.

14 January 2009

What are the best Blackberry apps?

There are plenty of berry apps out there, some good some bad. After installing a pile on a brand new 8900 curve (and bricking the handset in the process - App Error 200 - there was no O2 validated OS available at the time for a complete wipe and reload). I thought I would share what I have learned in the process.

So far on my new device, I am mainly sticking to free RIM published apps, the app that causes the big error was a Skype program either IM+ or iSkoot dont know which but I was in the process of installing and removing those when it happened.

Currently Installed and working well
  • Google Apps a really nice package of all the google apps for blackberry use this link on your phone m.google.com or visit www.google.com/mobile/blackberry/.
    • Google Search sure you can search google from the browser; but this tiny app provides a nice formatted search list, has 'google suggest' enabled and also shows links to the other google apps at the top of the page.
    • Google Sync this is what its really all about, this simple app syncs all your contacts and calendar information between the device and google, its completely seamless and automatically updates the data as and when required.
    • Google Maps amazing, works with the phones built in GPS, works much better than blackberry maps, loads pages quicker, search is great, even has access to street view.
    • Google Reader access to all your RSS feeds on google reader. Interface could do with some work, the first view you get is your reading list.
    • Google News as you would expect, whats quite nice is that you can customize the page view to show what categories you want to see.
    • Gmail this I dont use very often, my gmail gets pushed to my device via my BIS so not point in using this an getting double the notifications for new mails. However if i ever need to search by gmail archive its very handy indeed.
    • Google Calendar again not much point using this as all my calendar data is updated to the blackberry's own calendar with google sync. This is also just a link to the google mobile calendar page which is pretty naf. No function to 'go-to date' or 'erase' an event. Shows the agenda view.
    • Google Docs pretty horrible, links to the mobile site, shows the most recent files to be edited. Spreadsheets; you can view as HTML (horrible) or click to view as XLS [Keyboard shortcuts; w: column width; t: goto top left; b: goto bottom right]. Dont bother downloading the XLS as 'Docs to Go' wont open it. Word; nice view of the text, but no possibility to edit it or download it.
    • Picasa Web Albums/Google Photos links to mobile site, shows all your own albums. My favorites links to other users you share your photos with and recently viewed albums of other users.
    • Google Notebook links to mobile site, easy to view all the notes, add new notes, but whats quite annoying is you cannot edit or erase notes! [Update: Looks like google is going to can notebook soon anyway, read this post on Lifehacker]
  • Facebook nice app from RIM, full integration for notification of events, that can be customized in profile setup. www.blackberry.com/facebook_download
  • Google Talk not part of Google Apps, from RIM, as would be expetced full intergration for notifications, chats show up on the messages page, very clean little chat interface www.blackberry.com/GoogleTalk.
  • Windows Live Messenger from RIM, much the same as google talk; clean & simple usability with full blackberry integration www.blackberry.com/livemessenger/.
  • Flickr Upload tool for your Flickr account from RIM, also featuring message list integration for your Flickr messages www.blackberry.com/flickrdownload.
  • MySpace Not not a huge user of MySpace but the app looks nice, and probably being from RIM will work great and have full integration as would be expected www.blackberry.com/myspace.
Update 06 Jan 2009. Also now added Twitterberry its pretty nice, partial integration, will allow a flashing LED notification when you have a new tweet to view, but not notification icon on the home screen or alternative 'checkme' app icon orangatame.com/ota/twitterberry.

I'm would love to get a RIM Skype app, I'm not interested in calling with Skype, just the chat would be very handy. Looking at the Skype website there is a mobile app available for some other phones, I have seen the Sony Ericsson version in action, but no support for blackberry at the moment..